Once I decided to run a 4E game, I needed a campaign setting. There were several things I wanted in the setting:
- Lots of interesting places for the PCs to adventure in.
- Enough "room" for both my co-DM and myself to operate without stepping on each other.
- The ability to add things as necessary, instead of needing to build everything up front.
- The ability to place both home built and purchased material (like RPGA stuff after modifying it).
- The ability to incorporate anything half-way reasonable the PCs might want to play.
This pretty much said "home brew campaign world" all over it. We could have tried Greyhawk or maybe the implied world in 4E, but the implied world was sort of boring and Greyhawk wasn't something our PCs were terribly interested in (plus, tons of pre-existing storylines and possible player knowledge). I had done some initial design work on the MMTRPG (massively multiplayer tabletop role-playing game) with some of the forum users at Fear the Boot (most of which is now sadly lost due to the forums reset two years ago), but we never reached critical mass and it fizzled out. I decided to re-tread that as the background for the campaign.
- There's the Old World, which is mostly Standard Fantasy European Places.
- The Old World comprises the Northern Hemisphere.
- There's the Found World, which comprises the Southern Hemisphere and bears the ruins of an ancient, glorious civilization that was clearly struck down.
- The two hemispheres have been separated by a world-ringing storm that cannot be passed through north-to-south (but can south-to-north).
- The Found World was devastated long, long, LONG ago for reasons no one remembers, not even the elves. In fact, the Old World long ago forgot about the Found World.
- Moon Gates recently re-opened. They connect two points, one Old World to one Found World, for a short period of time.
- Different Moon Gates open at different times, based on the positions of the moons (which means there is more than one moon).
- Some Moon Gates are open for seconds, some for minutes, some a few hours. The longer they are open, the longer the time between openings. Open for hours equals opens once every two to three years. Open for seconds equals opens every week or so.
- On the Old World side, the gates open in remote locations. On the Found World side, they tend to open in the middle of ruins.
- Old world governments are stuffing colonies through the gates because lots of gold and magic can be found easily there. So the culture the PCs will operate in will be "Gold Rush boomtown on the frontier".
With that framework, I wanted to start creating the Found World, where the campaign would actually happen. I really don't care about the Old World as PCs going there retire and become NPCs. So I wanted the names of places already in the Found World. I use several random generator sites online (Seventh Sanctum and Serendipity) and put together a list of 20 fantasy-sounding fiefdoms and used their names as kernels to create around.
The main campaign city became Goldland Crossing, as it sounds like what you'd call a place where people show up from the Old World to find gold. The others gave me ideas and based on the short descriptions, I started placing them on a vague map, just to get their relative positions. (I'll be posting the short descriptions in later blog postings.) Yes, I'm a bit vague here, but I'll post more on this as time goes by.
Next I met with my co-DM and we started hammering at it to get it into shape. We moved some stuff around, placed some new stuff, and worked out what the culture and society would be like in order to function something like believably (not realistic, just believable). We now know why the campaign city exists and why it works the way we want it to. We also went over the conceptual map I created for Goldland Crossing using Zak S's Urbancrawl method and added stuff to that (mostly some interior walls to divide up and define the city better).
So that's where we are world building-wise. I have a framework for the local adventuring area, the reasons why adventurers are here, why there are places to adventure, and a jumping off point for the campaign. The rest we're going to build as we need it.
The First Adventure
The first adventure is going to be the PCs claiming a building in Goldland Crossing, clearing it out, and learning how the city works a bit (which covers a multitude of sins that I'm planning on inflicting on the PCs). Once they get a level or two under their belts, they should be ready for adventures out of the city. Plus, we'll all be more familiar with the system by then so I can start getting creative. Heh.